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Rare Italian Artillery Linstock, Florence, Late 16th C
The linstock was used with early artillery and its primary purpose was to hold the slow match used to ignite a cannonís powder charge. Due to the danger involved in lighting the charge, it had to be long to allow the gunner to remain at a distance from the breech. Most linstocks also had a blade or spike to use for defense in close combat should their position be overrun. This early Florentine example features a broad leaf-shaped blade pierced with a lily shape. A pair of upturned arms with monster head finials held the slow match. At the base is a lantern-shaped knot composed of six gilded mascherons. Conical socket engraved with human figures, mounted to a velvet-covered octagonal shaft with brass dome-headed tacks (steel shanks) and gold metallic tassel (velvet, most tacks, and tassel probably original). Two lower silk tassels likely added in the Victorian era. The later lower half of the shaft is of round-section and secured to the upper half with a brass sleeve. The entire head is engraved with geometric patterns and features gilded borders. Expert restorations. Length of metal 11 1/4"; overall 79 1/4". Scarce early polearm of exceptional quality.
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